Recent events in the world show that an effective United Nations is more needed than ever, Finland’s President told the General Assembly today in a speech on behalf of the European Union’s 25 members, aspiring members and some neighbour countries.
Speaking to global leaders gathered at UN Headquarters in New York for the annual general debate, Tarja Halonen warned that conflicts and terrorism continue to undermine economic and social progress around the world.
“Contrary to our shared ideals, the realities of war and violence have not become history,” she said, later citing the conflict in the Middle East as an example of a problem that requires sustained international attention.
Ms. Halonen added that “effective multilateralism is crucial in facing the growing threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction” as she welcomed recent resolutions on this issue on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Iran.
The Finnish President also stressed the importance of upholding human rights and the need to keep reforming the UN and its key bodies, such as the General Assembly and the Security Council.
Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski invoked the spirit of his country’s Solidarity resistance movement of the 1980s as he urged the UN and its Member States to work together to overcome their biggest differences and challenges.
“I believe that where tensions and social conflicts are resolved through dialogue, where respect is promoted for different cultures and religions, where economic inequalities between societies and States are prevented, terrorism will not find soil to grow,” he said.
Mr. Kaczynski said “the dramatic dissonance between poverty and incredible scientific and technological progress” must change so that people in the South have access to the same development opportunities as those in the North.
Moritz Leuenberger, President of Switzerland, told the Assembly that the world’s biggest challenges, from war and terrorism to the transfer of jobs offshore to climate-related natural disasters, know no borders and therefore require global responses.
He also emphasized the importance of respecting human rights during the fight against terrorism, urging all Member States, large and small, to adopt the statute on the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Norway’s Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, described his country’s longstanding support for the United Nations. As a member of the UN panel for reform, Norway was helping to develop proposals on how to better address development, humanitarian assistance and environmental issues, particularly in light of the many new agencies and activities added to the UN portfolio over the years.
He pointed out that in several countries, the UN system was represented by more than 20 different organizations and called for an end to duplication, fragmentation and rivalry between different parts of the system.